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Sweet memories in a small town

Phillip’s Ice Cream truck
I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM: Folks in Shelbyville, Mo., all scream for Phillip’s Ice Cream. The Phillips family has served sweet dairy desserts for the past 30 years out of an old ice cream truck in the center of town.
Missouri Mile: Ice cream truck serves Shelbyville, Mo., families for 30 years.

High school students know what they like. Riding in a Suburban with a group of North Shelby FFA members, I asked a simple question, “What makes your town unique?” It was a quick response: “Phillip’s ice cream truck.” 

Before moving out to the farm, my family lived in a subdivision. Every summer, my sister and I looked forward to hearing the music off in the distance. We sat at our mailbox listening as the music grew louder. Finally, we saw it turn the corner — the ice cream truck!

ICE CREAM TRADITION: Many families come to the ice cream truck during the summer months. With prices that have not changed much in three decades, ice cream makes a great gift.

So I understand the youthful infatuation with an ice cream truck. Honestly, I have not seen one in years. But at the corner of East Main Street and South Washington Street in Shelbyville, Mo., just across from the Shelby County Courthouse, sits Phillip’s Ice Cream truck.

Danny and Janice Phillips have been dishing out ice cream cones, floats and even shakes to kids and parents in this community since 1985. The couple’s primary business is actually an engine repair shop. And for a while, the truck was housed at their business. “We just decided to move it to town,” Janice says.

She opens “any time the weather is nice and warms up,” but hours generally are from 3 to 9 p.m. Families step up to the order window after attending baseball and softball games, or gathering at community events. “Really, people come by any time,” she says.

The menu hasn’t changed much in 30 years, and Janice says neither have the prices. She still serves a small cup of vanilla ice cream for $1. You can also get a larger portion of a variety of sundaes and milkshakes for $3.

For Janice, it is not about the money. “This is what we do for fun,” she says. She enjoys seeing generations come to the truck. “It is important to invest in your local community,” she adds.

This year has been challenging, as her husband is ill. However, she is keeping the truck open for her community. To her, Phillip’s Ice Cream truck is about service.

Still it warms her heart when a group of teenage boys says her truck is the one thing that makes their hometown unique. “Those boys,” she gushes.

So, if you’re out and about traveling in north-central Missouri on State Highway 15, stop by and see Janice. She’ll serve you some sweet ice cream — and perhaps help your family make some memories in her small town.

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